Most college applications require a letter or letters of recommendation. Applicants find it’s easy to fill in the blanks on the application form, but harder to rely on someone else to give a clear picture of who they are both personally and academically. Colleges take these letters seriously. There are some things you can do to get great letters of recommendation for college.
Start Way Before the Deadline
You’re going to ask respected teachers and community members for a recommendation, and they’re busy. Once you’ve asked them to write you a letter of recommendation, it’s going to take time. Your teachers and school counselors are inundated with requests certain times of the year. If you want yours back before the deadline, you need to ask for it way ahead.
If you think about college recommendation letters from the very first day of your freshman year you can begin building those relationships early. When you struggle and succeed, make a note of it so you can bring it up later. Take photos of projects and presentations to jog your memory and the memories of those in charge.
Decide Who to Ask
Think about the subject areas and classes you did well in, but don’t stop there. Some classes required a struggle, and you persevered. These stories show character traits colleges want.
Make It Easy
The best teachers know their students. Most likely, the ones you’re asking for a recommendation have taught you for more than a semester and influenced you deeply. Remember, they have a lot of students. Help them write a letter that highlights your accomplishments.
When you request a letter, remind them of projects or assignments on which they gave you a good grade. Tell them some of the lessons you learned the most from and remind them how you participated in those lessons. They may not know about challenges you faced during the school year. Fill them in so they know what you overcame to do well in their class.
It’s a good idea to give them something in writing that outlines your accomplishments in their class and others. They might not know about your extracurricular or volunteer activities, so be sure to include that in your outline.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get your letter of recommendation back right away. Check in every week or so by dropping by or sending an email to keep your request at the top of the pile.
A good letter of recommendation tells your college about your strengths and community involvement. It provides a picture more vivid than just grades and test scores. Show them who you are by getting letters of recommendation from those who know you best.